Written by Brian T. Clark
This month I waited until after my attendance at the 30th LAMBDA Literary Awards on June 4th, to write my blog. I wasn’t sure if I would write a congratulatory blog about winning ‘Best Gay Romance’ for my book Come to the Oaks; or writing about how just being a Lammy finalist was all that mattered. Home from the trip, without the Lammy award in hand, I’m sad I didn’t win, but I can say I had a great trip.
Some say, ‘you’re only as good as the company you keep’. Others say ‘there is no sincerer love than the love of food’. Well, this trip I experienced both, great company and delicious food. I’ve never been to New York, so I had both landmarks, and food on the agenda of things that were important.
In three days, my husband, his parents, and my mother covered a lot of ground and ate our way from Manhattan to Harlem. Since Central Park was a must, our first day we walked the fifteen blocks from the hotel to the park. Along the way, we visited the ‘Top of the Rock’ for a view of the city before arriving in Central Park. The park was bigger than I imagined with ponds, lakes, bike trails, sprawling lawns and luscious foliage.
My agenda was not the park at all, but the hot dog. From the moment we landed in New York, I had been seeing hot dog carts, and heard a New York hot dog was like no other dog. It took about a half hour in the park before I found the perfect hot dog stand. One hundred percent beef and eleven inches… well what’s not to like about that. From the first bite, I realized it was just another dog. Disappointed, I didn’t let it steal the fact I was sitting in Central Park eating a wiener.
That night, all dolled up, we had dinner at the Cock and Bull restaurant before taking in our Broadway show, The Lion King. And wow was that a show.
The next day, by seven-thirty-a.m. we were ready to hit the subway for our nine-a.m. tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island… Unfortunately, the tour started at eight and left without us. No worries though, we caught the ferry and did the self-guided tour.
Every bit as grand as in the movies, our Lady Liberty commanded your attention as the ferry drew closer to her. (Just between you and me, I imagined her to be a little taller.) This was a full day, which included a slice of the world-famous New York-style pizza they call pie. LOVED IT! I folded it in half and devoured it.
From there it was on to Ground Zero for an emotional tour, ending at the reflecting pools. This was a powerful experience that invoked a wide range of emotions.
High on the bucket list was our next stop that evening for dinner. Sylvia’s, the Queen of Soul Food in Harlem was just a twenty-five-dollar Uber ride from Manhattan. As soon as you walk into the dining room, you know your experience will be good. The dining room was buzzing with people from all walks of life; from the African American older ladies in big church hats, to the Jewish young man on a date with a strikingly beautiful Asian woman. With Home Style Fried Chicken with Collard Greens & Mac and Cheese, this was not the time to people watch. Damn that chicken was crispy and juicy, and the cornbread made my toes curl.
The next day started with a fresh air walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, stretching across from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Afterwards, lunch at the Rockefeller center, and a taste from a five-pound slice of New York cheesecake. Nope, I’ve never had cheese cake that scrumptious.
As evening fell upon us, at last, the event in which we were in the city for, had arrived, the 30th LAMBDA Literary Awards. Well because we already know how that turned out, let’s move on to after the ceremony.
For three days, I had been eyeing an Ice Cream truck parked down from the hotel. The side of the truck in big letters said New York Style Ice Cream. I was running out of time and since losing the award hours earlier, I needed comfort, real comfort. Still in my tux, Brian and I headed to Times Square in search of the truck. Brian ordered a chocolate sundae, and I had a Vanilla ice cream with Oreo cookies and chopped peanuts. The cost of this fix was a whopping twenty-three dollars, and yes it made me feel better.
In three days, we saw everything on my bucket list and then some. It was a trip that was as exciting as my vacations in Greece, Thailand, or the Amalfi coast. The rich texture of people, buildings, and food is like nothing else in the United States. For those of you that are on the fence about seeing New York, go. I promise you won’t be sorry.
Now it’s time to lose the three pounds I gained and return to work and get this next book finished for you. With a week’s worth of mail and emails to catch up on, Escaping Camp Roosevelt may have to wait until next week.
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